SA Taxi Foundation supports national roll-out of mobile school libraries
Through its support for the South African Primary Education Support Initiative (SAPESI) SA Taxi Foundation, the corporate social responsibility arm of SA Taxi, is contributing to the provision of library books to underprivileged primary schools in all nine provinces.
SA Taxi is the country’s only independent financer of minibus taxis and one of South Africa’s few certified developmental credit providers.
The SAPESI initiative is based on a system being used in Japan, where some 520 mobile libraries support city libraries tasked with ensuring that students have free access to books. SAPESI brings to South Africa the vehicles that have been retired from mobile library service in Japan.
“Because the vehicles have low mileage, usually less than 70 000 kms, they are still fit for many years’ service in South Africa,” says SAPESI head, Tad Hasunuma, a former Toyota SA employee who decided to replicate in South Africa his home country’s mobile library system.
“By using the Japanese vehicles, we are able to eliminate the financial costs and time delays that would be incurred if we had to convert vehicles from scratch here. These savings have enabled us in only two years to put 49 vehicles in the field, reaching 189 000 learners and 6 300 teachers in 900 schools.”
SAPESI’s goal is to deploy 70 vehicles by 2020, extending mobile library service to some 2 000 schools, 420 000 learners, and 14 000 teachers.
SAPESI collaborates closely with the national Department of Education, which funds the importation of the vehicles and the provision of a standard set of books per vehicle. The Department also funds research, undertaken by the Education Department of the University of the Free State, into the efficacy of the SAPESI initiative. Studies so far indicate that it has a tangibly beneficial effect on student literacy.
Corporate sponsors provide SAPESI with additional funding or books. Sony SA, for instance, has sourced books from its various global divisions.
SA Taxi Foundation has chosen to provide support services, including making office space available for SAPESI and funding awareness campaigns in the communities to which mobile libraries are to be rolled out.
“At SA Taxi, we believe education is the pivot on which the country’s economic success will turn and, of course, reading is the basis of education,” says SA Taxi Foundation director, Kalnisha Singh. “So, we focus the Foundation’s major initiatives on projects that will not only enrich communities’ oral traditions with literacy options but will also inculcate a love of reading in the generations on whose shoulders the future of South Africa will rest.
“In that context, we support SAPESI because it is putting in place a foundation on which very young South Africans can enjoy discovering the world outside their immediate communities and, in the process, come to realise that the world of ideas is everyone’s playground.”